The collaboration between the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and a revenue and assurance audit firm, Strategic Mobilisation Ghana Limited (SML), has helped the country to rake in an extra GH¢3 billion in three years.
The extra revenue which would have been lost to the state was realised when the measurement and reporting of petroleum product supplies from over 20 depots across the country was digitalised by SML Ghana.
Since the GRA/Customs and SML Ghana partnership in 2020, the average volume of petroleum products per month recorded by SML metres is 400 million litres, which has resulted in extra revenue of GH¢3 billion for the government between June 2020 and June 2022.
By that feat, the Customs Division of GRA which has a unit responsible for collection from the petroleum downstream sector mobilised GH¢22.26 billion as against a target of GH¢20.20 billion, exceeding the target by GH¢2.06 billion.
This came to light at a stakeholder engagement SML Ghana held recently in Tema with the leadership of the downstream petroleum unit of the Customs Division to discuss the new initiatives and to solicit inputs on how both sides can improve on the success to further enhance the country’s revenue.
The meeting forms part of regular stakeholder engagements between SML and its stakeholders.
GRA last year mobilised GH¢75.5 billion in domestic revenue, GH¢3.60 billion more than it was tasked to collect.
The collection was also a five per cent increase over last year’s target of GH¢71.94 billion.
The feat also means that the domestic revenue the GRA mobilised was 31.5 per cent more than what it collected in 2021.
The stakeholder engagement brought together the various Customs heads in charge of downstream petroleum depots across the country’s 16 regions.
SML Ghana took the Customs officials through the latest technologies such as scanning of waybills, and purchase orders and reconciling them with metre volumes at the depots in real-time as well as the introduction of level sensors to monitor, manage and measure the petroleum stocks.
The Managing Director of SML Ghana, Christian Tetteh Sottie, stated that the engagement was to take the officials through a detailed method of how the company was leveraging technology to improve the sector and remove any misconceptions while establishing the foundation of both sides as partners.
“We have had this collaboration with the GRA Customs Division since 2020 which comes with regular stakeholder engagements, and the team from Customs is really pleased with the work we are doing,” he stated.
The next step, Mr Sottie said, would be the installation of level sensors on all depot sites, an exercise which was currently underway.
“This will stop Customs officials climbing the tanks to manually check the level of stock in the tanks on a daily basis,” he revealed.
The Acting Head of the Petroleum Unit of GRA’s Customs Division, Meshach Kwame Danso, said the close collaboration between both parties was a step in the right direction.
He said the partnership was to improve the efficiency of revenue collection from the downstream petroleum sub-sector and accountability to the government.
“We need to know the right figures to help us to work smoothly. Working closely with SML Ghana has given us room to monitor the petroleum figures so that we can report to the government accurately,” Mr Danso said.
He added: “Thanks to their technology, we are now able to account for every litre of petroleum product. This collaboration is really good for the government’s petroleum revenue position.”
The Acting Head of the GRA/Customs’ Petroleum Unit called for more training sessions for the leadership and team at the downstream petroleum unit so that they could keep up with new information and trends.
“They are bringing new ideas on revenue assurance so we are looking forward to more encounters,” Mr Danso added.
Assistant Commissioner, Petroleum Downstream at GRA Customs Division, Sampson Anim, lauded SML Ghana for its transformative technology to maintain transparency while enhancing the sector and increasing revenue.
“The system is perfect. What we previously had was a manual system of auditing but this is a digital system that captures all our lifting from the depots through delivery to the fuel retail outlets and whatever destinations the product is supposed to be,” he said.
By that Mr Anim said the unit was able to monitor in real-time how much was being loaded at any depot, while it granted Customs the assurance that indeed “whatever we have captured for revenue purposes is accurate”.
The Assistant Commissioner of Customs said the shift from manual to electronic placed the unit in the midst of technology, saying “we are more confident with the job that we do; we are confident that the volumes that we churn out are the correct accurate volumes”.
Mr Anim said that also provided assurance and confidence that whatever the unit did was correct, including the accuracy of expected revenues.
SML Ghana’s impact
Known as the Electronic Metering Management System (EMMS), the SML Ghana system digitises the entire process chain by providing an end-to-end audit and assurance to GRA in the downstream petroleum sector.
SML is a wholly-owned Ghanaian company with the strong financial backing of investors with varied business interests in Ghana across different industries.
Steered by a governing board, the organisation currently has two main divisions with its Tema office specialising in the audit of downstream petroleum products, while the Osu office deals mainly with trade transaction pricing and business process audits.